Weekly Chew: Designer and curator Rebecca Snelling on tenacity and perseverance in the design space

As her beautifully balanced, classical yet contemporary pieces make waves on the furniture scene, Rebecca Snelling collects her thoughts on what comes next. 

Who the heck are you? Background?

I am Rebecca Snelling head designer and creator of Workroom Design as well as owner and curator of Douglas + Bec design boutique in St Mary's bay. I have a BFA in fine art from Whitecliffe College of art and design. Fine arts is my background as well as my design practice. I maintain my art practice, which is essentially based around super real, large-scale pencil drawing. 

What inspires you?

Material and formal language is the premise of all that I do. So one of the things that influences me is the drive to create the perfectly balanced piece. I believe that a formal language plus material harmony leads to a classic work. I am concerned with making timeless pieces. This is as much for myself as it is for clients. I do not like looking at my work a year down the track and disliking it.  

5 things that influence you every day?

  1. My Father—we speak about 10 times a day. He rings me from the workshop and we discuss and talk through all of the making. 
  2. Timber and discovering its potential—raw material. 
  3. Always desiring to make the next piece—we are always planning or thinking about the next work that we want to make. 
  4. The process of refinement and making—from the idea to the complete finished product, there could be a total change. 
  5. Driving to work. This is my collecting thoughts time—I get some of my best ideas while driving or in the shower.

Your guiding philosophy?

Stick to your knitting—it’s about tenacity and perseverance. "It is a marathon not a sprint" (I tend to say from time to time). 

What makes Workroom designs distinctive?

We produce the majority of work ourselves. My father, Douglas Snelling and I work together from concept to completion and there is an intuitive understanding for the desired outcome. A high proportion of our work is made in found or recycled timber—other wise it is sustainable farmed timber. We produce our work in low quantities. All our compartment or outsourcing is local and feeds New Zealand businesses. 

We also work from making a prototype and refining it. We start with an idea and then spend the time making the piece better and better. This allows us to get the best result from our timber choices as well as the strongest aesthetic. 

Our aesthetic is building a definite distinction with a clean line and material focus.

Favourite products you have created—why?

The angle lamp 2.0 It shows the progression of where we started and where we are now. It is the second version of our angle table lamp but fundamentally their lines and proportions are exactly the same.

The turned table lamp. This was our first lamp we ever produced. I used to turn these myself and love the sculptural quality of wood-turning. I also like using an 'overlooked' material such as ply and treating it in a 'precious' way. 

New directions? The future?

We are introducing more material to sit next to the timber - as we have in the new angle table lamp. We have also been discussing our first chair and arm chair and have some prototypes in the workshop which we are critiquing and trialling. We are also hoping to release a desk.  

Favourite classics of all time?

I really like Jens Risom and, in particular, the 1955U 431 low armless chair.

Favourite café?

Good One of late because of where I live but Kokako in Parnell is also a favourite of mine.

Jens Risom Chair

Pencil drawing